Wednesday, 15 November 2017

MPOV: Astray

My rating: 2/5
Goodreads rating: 3.57/5

Author: Emma Donoghue
Originally published: 2012
Genre: Historical fiction

The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.

With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times.

"The Hunt" was short-listed for the 2012 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.

The above taken from Goodreads.

It's a compilation of short stories inspired from old articles or history that Emma has come across. It may have been written neatly with the accompanying details but I did find it dense a little if not kinda had me in a daze. I've not read her other books yet so I'm unsure if her prose or her story was not my cup of tea. That said, I did like a few of it like The Gift, Vanitas and What Remains.

An interesting phrase:
Nearly never knit a sock

A couple of worthy notes:


Some new words:
Ignorami - an utterly ignorant person
Perfidiousness - it means underhanded, treacherous, deceitful
Caterwaul - a shrill howling or wailing noise
Almshouse - a house founded by charity
Ersatz - not real or genuine
Uxorious - having or showing a great or excessive fondness of one's wife
Obsequies - funeral services
Simulacrum - an image or representation of someone or something
Expiation - the act of making amends or reparation for guilt or wrongdoing, atonement

Monday, 13 November 2017

MPOV: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.99/5

Originally published: June 18, 2013
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow and Company
Genres: Dark fantasy, Surrealism, Horror fiction

First of all, this author has been highly recommended in the bookclub (KLBAC) that I am in. I have started on American Gods but somehow, I could not finished chapter 1. As I was about to give up on this author, I thought why not give it another try since it came highly recommended. I found this book which happened to be slim, just right for my recent travel to HKG. Lo and behold, I have fallen in love with this book.

TOATEOTL is about a man who has returned to his childhood home after attending a funeral. He has not thought of his childhood in a long time and suddenly he thought of Lettie Hempstock, his only friend when he was 7 years old. After passing through his childhood home which was no longer there, he headed to the end of the lane where the Hempstock farm was, where Lettie used to stay. Surprisingly, the farm was still intact and the pond, which Lettie used to call the ocean, was still where it was. All the memories slowly flooding his mind, of his childhood friend Lettie, of their misadventure and how it ended then.

Although ambiguous at times, the story flowed seamlessly with the characters bringing me along their journey... a tumultous ride with the ups and downs keeping me on my toes! It somehow had me imagined that the man, the narrator, was Neil Gaiman and this is his story of his childhood, a particular one when he was 7. It was truly an entertaining read which I've enjoyed from the start to the end.

I so so so loved Neil's poetic prose which was melodically on point! Nothing long-winded, just precision and straight-forward, so easily absorded and imaginable. I just can't comprehend the fact that I was about to give up on him! Perhaps I should stick to his non-adult books for now LOL! An example of his poetic prose:
She had such unusual eyes. They made me think of the seaside, and so I called her Ocean, and could not have told you why.
Some new words for me:
Blancmange - a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavoured with almonds. It is usually set in a mould and served cold.
Palaver - prolonged and tedious fuss or discussion.

And to end this review, I have attached an excerpt from the book which I find inspiring, which is relatable to us as readers:

Friday, 10 November 2017

CSM: Sponsor a rescued pooch programme

For just RM60 a month, you can help us feed a rescued dog, which is young and strapping with nowhere to go, old and fragile or disabled and special. The sponsorship funds will be used to pay for food, veterinary bills, staff wages, rental and utility bills. Please send us a private message and we'll tell you how to sign-up as a Furkid Sponsor. To learn more, please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/MDDBFurkidSponsorship/

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Hong Kong: Starbucks

I was fortunate that I had the opportunity to travel to Macau and Hong Kong recently, all thanks to my sister's kindness and fortitude. So blessed to be travelling together with my mom and sister for 4 days 3 nights to such beautiful, colourful and retro islands where I've grew up watching on TV. Such a lovely trip, meeting so many beautiful souls and yet encountered some nasty ones... as such, I've decided to kick start my blog post with a bad encounter at Starbucks, Hong Kong.

If you are wondering why I'm starting with a bad encounter first, well, I just want to get it over with and then move on to all the happy memorable moments which are aplenty! I do have lots of wonderful photos which I have yet to select and filter so it will take a very long time for me to post it LOL!

It was the second night of our travel, the first night in Hong Kong to be exact. We just had our dinner with my sister's colleague and decided to explore Ladies Market. While passing through the congested aisles, we came across a Starbucks shop and promptly headed for it was it was my intention to buy a tumbler for my collection. After selecting a suitable tumbler, I went to the cashier and asked in Cantonese if I could purchase the card too. To my utmost horror, the cashier ignored me and proceeded to pack my tumbler instead. After which, he asked for HKD170 which I've then ignored and asked the same question again. However, it seemed that he has trouble understanding me and proceeded to ask me in English instead. Here's how the conversation went:

Cashier: Why do you need the card for?
Me (so stumped with such a question!): I am collecting it
Cashier (proceeded to show me the cards and flicked in a rude manner the current snowman he has and replied): These are about 2 years back, we don't have any new ones
Me (damn angry with the rude behaviour, reigning in my temper and asked): No new ones? That's all?
Cashier with a smug face replied: Yeah
Me - promptly paid the amount and turned to leave after collecting my change and receipt when the cashier realised he forgot to give me a free drink voucher for purchasing a tumbler... looking sheepish for this blunder while explaining the usage.

I just don't get it. It was just a simple transaction of registering the new card, adding credit into it and then use it to pay my tumbler. Why did he has to behave in such a rude manner? Just because I'm a tourist? I have no such issue getting the card in Bali, in fact, the staffs went the extra mile explaining and helping us get the best of both card and tumbler! Way to go Starbucks Bali!

Anyway, after I've shook that rude incident off, we continued to explore Ladies Market and stumbled on another Starbucks outlet. As we were dead tired, sis suggested that I redeemed the free drink there and so another odd encounter happened. This time around, the cashier was friendly. We saw a poster with some new iced drinks and ordered one of that. The cashier was kind to inform me that I could redeemed this drink with my voucher and I was a happy camper! Until when I collected it.......... my heart dropped when it turned out to be a hot drink instead! I did a double take at the poster and my cup.

Poster = iced drinks
Reality = hot drink

I rest my case. Starbucks Hong Kong, I'm speechless!!!
The rude one

The voucher
The friendly but blur one

All the heartache and hassle for this beauty!
Definitely had me in negative vibes, giving me bad impressions, of Starbucks and Hong Kong. Well with the bad encounter out of the bag and out of the way, I will try to sort out the photos I've taken of both Macau and Hong Kong as soon as I could.

The next blog post would be of the colourful and vibrant Macau.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

MPOV: Mandy's

My rating: 3/5
Location: LG28, Lower Ground Floor, The Summit USJ
Type: Halal

This cafe has been one of the longest operating in The Summit USJ. Finally trying it for the first time recently, it's a family oriented cafe with a wide menu of Western and local dishes.
Asam Prawn with rice RM10.50
I've ordered Asam Prawn with rice and mind you, it was truly spicy to the roof! I have not anticipated that as it's a westernised cafe! I could only taste the spiciness and nothing else. Hub's Lamb Chop was as traditional as it can be with the lamb's aroma so tempting! I did kinda regret not ordering from the western menu... next time perhaps.
Lamb Chop RM19.88
The quirky yet Texas-like decor, so typically country and family oriented. Only missing those horse shoes and cow-girls LOL!

Wall of fame!
Overall, the food was good, simple and straight-forward. Nothing fancy to cloud your taste-buds. I like the simplicity of it and them being able to sustain for so long is not an easy feat! Total bill was RM39.50 inclusive of GST, a glass of Ice Lemon Tea and a bottle of Mineral Water... not too pricey for such a simple meal in a mall.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

MPOV: Burial Rites

My rating: 5/5
Goodreads rating: 4.01/5
First published: 2013
Author: Hannah Kent
Genre: Historical fiction

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

The above taken from Goodreads.

I have never known how a person on death row feels. Though I can imagine it many times, I will never know the exact feeling or trauma that runs through the mind at the point of execution. Whether they are innocent or guilty, I believe the mindset would be the same. I truly applaud Hannah Kent for being able to visualise and portray, written it with immense details, all the seriousness and in-depth of this novel. It is definitely not an easy feat.

I can feel Agnes' sorrow, anguish and fear. It is such a sad, harrowing tale of a woman who has been wronged from the beginning just because she's different and poor. In current days, it would have been a manslaughter charge and not the death penalty, just to make an example of. I don't see justice here but double standard and hypocrisy. Agnes has been a strong woman, taking in all the negativeness and mistreatment from others in her stride, although she's afraid inside.

While reading this novel, I can imagine how the movie would be and who will act as Agnes in this haunting adaptation. But then, after Googling, I found out that there was a movie with Jennifer Lawrence as Agnes made in 2016. Hmmm... not sure if I could stomach the movie itself after finishing this novel. I'm still reeling in the heaviness of this tormenting novel. I felt like crying in the end but I can't as I was in a public area LOL!

Some memorable quotes and thoughts from the book:

From page 52:
As it says in the sagas, a witch often has fair skin.

From page 100:
Natan did not believe in sin. He said that it is the flaw in the character that makes a person.

From page 170:
Blondal believed 'She lied to my face in this very room'.

From page 189:
As they say, blind is a man without a book.

Just before Agnes died which really hits home:
You will be lost. There is no final home, there is no burial, there is only a constant scattering, a thwarted journey that takes you everywhere without offering you a way home, for there is no home, there is only this cold island and your dark self spread thinly upon it until you take up the wind’s howl and mimic its loneliness you are not going home you are gone silence will claim you, suck your life down into its black waters and churn out stars that might remember you, but if they do not they will not say, they will not say, and if no one will say your name you are forgotten I am forgotten.

Some new words:
Badstofa - a farm's living/ sleeping room, built in the late 19th century
Hovel - a small squalid or simply constructed dwelling
Lovage -  a large edible white-flowered plant of the parsley family
Skyr - an Icelandic dish consisting of curdled milk
Gaolhouse - a prison
Fetter - a chain or manacle used to restrain a prisoner, typically placed around the ankles
Saltpetre - another term for potassium nitrate

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

MPOV: Uni-V Skin Care - Essence Spray

Earlier, I've blogged about this new gem which I've started using, you can view my previous post here

After a month of usage, I'm a happy camper! My skin feels soft and supple, the product itself smells nice and smooth to use. I'm glad to be given this opportunity to try it! 

So here's my review of the first product: Essence Spray 50ml RM69.90

Made of natural marine ingredients, collagen and red algae, this bottle of essence is conveniently packed with a spray nozzle. I'm using this after my moisturiser / before my sunblock during the day and after moisturiser during the night. I've initially used the spray directly on my skin but I find it rather wasting as the light mist spritz all over hence the wastage though invigorating LOL!
You can either spray it directly on your skin
I've since sprayed it on my cotton ball first before dabbing it on my skin in upwards motion. It's lightly fragranced so I find it perky in the morning after using it. Apparently some may not like the scent so perhaps you can dab it lightly instead. It is suitable for dry and sensitive skin.
Or spray it on a cotton ball before applying it on your skin
The outcome: I find my skin more soft and supple, not as drying and I'm glad that there's no adverse effect on my sensitive skin! Now I wonder if it'll lighten my freckles! LOL!

The best part, this product is made in Malaysia so a plus point for me as I do support local products and entrepreneurs.

For more details, you can check out their website:
https://www.uni-v.asia/

Next: Jelly Mask

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